Not everyone needs everything for an extended amount of time. That’s why you can rent pretty much anything these days. Cars, houses, washing machines, furniture and the like can all be leased for short amounts of time and then returned.

Now the European-based operator O2 is looking to bring this business model to the smartphone market as it has just announced its new rental program: O2 Lease. With the service, customers will now be able to rent the iPhone 4S instead of purchasing it…

The Inquirer shares a comment from Sally Cowdry, O2’s marketing and consumer director:

“This is the first time a UK mobile operator has adopted a leasing model. We know that customers and small businesses are used to leasing everyday items from cars and washing machines to photocopiers and office space. They understand how it works and what the advantages of a leasing are. We have simply taken this idea and applied to the smartphone market.”

For £55 (which is around $85 US) per month, customers will get a 16GB iPhone 4S and a wireless plan that includes 750 minutes of talk time, unlimited text messaging, 500MB of data, and device insurance. Users can upgrade to the 32GB model for an additional £10 a month.

The leasing option comes with a 1-year contract. At the end of the 12 months customers can return the device to O2 and then rent the latest handset, keeping them on the cutting edge of smartphone technology.

O2 says the service is “the first tariff model available to all O2 customers that reflects the lifecycle of the smartphone industry.” That’s pretty accurate when you think about it. eBay gets flooded with iPhone listings every year around the time that Apple refreshes its handset.

It’ll be interesting to see if O2’s leasing program is a success, as other wireless carriers will likely follow suit.

Would you rent an iPhone from your cell phone provider?

  • Anonymous

    I saw this a couple of days ago somewhere else and thought it was dumb

    And I still think its dumb why rent one I can’t see the point if you like the iPhone you will buy one rather than paying even more money on top again for the pleasure of renting it

  • Dan

    well I already pay 80$ (tax inc) per month for my contract… so if they lowered the price a bit, it would actually be an option. I’m guessing I have a lot more features though.

  • This would make sense if you wanted a phone for a trip or something, but didn’t want to be trapped in a stupid 2 year contract! I think around $60 is more reasonable though.

    • Anonymous

      Would have to be a long trip on a 12 month contract
      Actually a 12 month trip sounds awesome 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if you jail-break it then return it, what would happen?

    • If you had half a brain you would restore in iTunes before returning as you probably wouldn’t want to be handing over your personal data and high scores in fruit ninja.

  • Kok Hean

    Ridiculous. It will be cheaper if the person purchases the phone in the long term.

  • Doesn’t make much sense as O2 UK offers a free iPhone 4S 16GB with a monthly call and data package costing £52.00 which includes 1200 minutes and unlimited texts.